“Vassar Pembroke Confronts the Spanish Language Teacher”

JMN (10)

Vassar Pembroke Confronts the Spanish Language Teacher

Vassar Pembroke busts his chops,
Spits her mind with no preamble,
Says his teaching method flops
According to her daughter Campbell.

“Campbell says she’s not inspired.
You do not motivate her much.
Your expectations make her tired.
Your lessons lack the caring touch.

“You leave her to her own devices,
Make the subject matter tough.
Naught you do or say suffices
To help her understand the stuff.

“Kindly specify the date
On which you’ll rectify her grade,
So as to promptly compensate
My daughter for the mess you’ve made.”

To which he says, “Mrs. Pembroke,
I thank you for your homily.
Your daughter knew whereof she spoke
When she said, ‘Mom is mad. You’ll see.’

“I’ll cook her grades with more ardor
To tenderize my toughish love.
Two days from now she’ll look smarter,
Your tart gosling, your plaintive dove.

“Meanwhile, more contact with the book,
Some practice, and a little thought
Will get your daughter off the hook.
Another tongue’s more learned than taught.

“And if you will just back away
She’ll also learn what school’s about.
Excuse me now from this display
And kindly usher yourself out.”

Copyright (c) 2018 James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day, and watch Netflix and Prime Video for entertainment. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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3 Responses to “Vassar Pembroke Confronts the Spanish Language Teacher”

  1. Eric Wayne says:

    I especially appreciated this because I teach “English as a foreign language” to put coffee in my cup, and I can also remember my more boring French and Spanish classes. These days a language teacher is expected to be an entertainer, and make every class interesting, engaging, and FUN! Let’s just say I have more games and activities in one 3-hour lesson than I got in all my language classes put together. One is expected to be endlessly creative, and there’s no possibility of ever being good enough. This has something to do with the business model, and ends up being needlessly stressful and burns out a lot of the better teachers, because you just can’t put in all that extra work for nothing indefinitely.

    Also, rather ironically, this is not the most effective teaching method because the students are paying customers, always right, and the paradigm includes that they learn from the teacher, and not on their own. Rote learning is completely absent, and homework is nearly nonexistent. A consequence of this is that even if you have the students doing something perfectly, they simply forget what they learned on a continual basis. Meanwhile I still remember French from 30 years ago because I memorized the shit out of it with flash cards.

    I love that midway the tables turn and the teacher has a comeback.

    I used to write poetry myself when I was 18-19, passionately, but then stopped and never took it up again. I am not a huge fan of poetry at all. Oh gawd, I imagine these days what passes for poetry is whatever has the correct social justice message.

    So, it’s surprising that I actually enjoy this sort of poem, but I do. It’s fun to read, tells a story, and takes a stance on a topic. I’d tend to side with the teacher, but, compared to me, it doesn’t sound like he has to work very hard to his morning beverage.

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